Hanah Bowen thought she had strike three. The Arizona right-hander pinpointed an offspeed pitch near the bottom of the zone for what would have been a big out in the sixth.
Instead, it was ruled a ball and Rachel Garcia sent the very next pitch over the left-field wall. The two-run homer broke a scoreless tie and opened the floodgates for No. 2 UCLA in a 6-2 win over No. 8 on Friday at Hillenbrand Stadium.
Ball 3 or strike 3? Hanah Bowen didn't get this call and Rachel Garcia hit the go-ahead homer on the very next pitch.— Ryan Kelapire (@RKelapire) May 15, 2021
Tough break for @ArizonaSoftball. pic.twitter.com/MbqRAtVQ6E
UCLA added a sac fly later in the inning and Delanie Wisz crushed a two-out, three-run homer to center to give the Bruins a six-run cushion in the seventh.
The Wildcats scored their first runs of the series in the bottom of the frame—a two-run homer by Dejah Mulipola—but it was too little too late.
With the win, the Bruins secured the Pac-12 title and continue to threaten Arizona’s chances of earning a top-8 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats likely need to win the final two games of the series to have any hope. Game 3 begins at 7:30 p.m. PT. Game 4 is Saturday at 1 p.m.
Arizona needs more offense.
Megan Faraimo quieted their bats until the final inning, allowing just five hits in a complete-game effort while racking up 10 strikeouts.
The Wildcats only put one runner in scoring in the first six innings—and even that was in a somewhat controversial fashion. Reyna Carranco reached on an error to begin the fifth and Jessie Harper, who’s fourth on the all-time home run list, put down a sacrifice bunt to advance Carranco to second.
Mulipola struck out and Sharlize Palacios popped out to strand her there.
Bowen was matching Faraimo step for step until Garcia’s tiebreaking homer, allowing just two hits in the first five innings. Bowen escaped a bases-loaded jam in the second inning, getting a flyout and big strike out to keep the Bruins at bay.
For a while, anyway.
(Note: there are no postgame interviews between games of a doubleheader.)